Tag Archives: NHL

Las Vegas Wins Bid For NHL Team

Hockey in Las Vegas? You better believe it! Las Vegas will finally be a home to a major professional sports team. You can expect the ice hockey team to begin playing in the league for the 2017-18 season. And their name? That’s still to be determined. There’s been speculation of the “Night Hawks”, “Desert Hawks”, “Knights” and “Desert Knights” and much, much more. Owner Bill Foley hopes the team will incorporate the word Knight into the name since he is the Chairman of the Board for Black Knight Financial Service.

Some people feel other major cities in the U.S. got snubbed and would be have been more worthy for an NHL franchise than Las Vegas. One example is Seattle, WA. Seattle used to have a professional hockey team with a winning tradition: The Seattle Metropolitans. The team competed in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, where they won three championships while making an impact on a league/teams that eventually folded into current day NHL teams.

It’s surprising that hockey will be the first major professional sports team to be played in the city of Las Vegas. As a sport in the United States, hockey ranks behind football, baseball, and basketball. Is it possible that Las Vegas has too many distraction that will take away from a sports franchise in the city? Casinos, daily entertainment shows are the norm and could keep people from attending a sport that lacks in popularity compared to football, basketball and baseball.

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Posted by on September 27, 2016 in Bruce Heen


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NHL Stanley Cup Champions: Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins came on strong in the second half of the season and have been rewarded with the highest honor with a Stanley Cup trophy. The last cup came to the team back in 2009 and this one couldn’t feel any sweeter considering last years performance, the mid-season firing of Mike Johnston and hiring of new coach, Mike Sullivan.

I often write about the New York Rangers, but there’s also a reason why I’m writing about the Pittsburgh Penguins outside of being relevant news after winning the Stanley Cup Finals. The Penguins have two individuals — a coach and player — that have made tremendous contributions to the team. Both of these individuals were former members of the New York Rangers organization. Lets take a look:

Mike Sullivan, Coach 

Once the assistant coach of the New York Rangers under John Tortorella, Mike Sullivan came to Pittsburgh when Mike Johnston was fired halfway through the season. Since taking over, the team went on to win 33 of 16 games (.675 win percentage) and took the cup from the San Jose Sharks. Sullivan has had interesting coach career spanning 14 years (2002 – 2016):

  • Providence Bruins (AHL), Head Coach
  • Boston Bruins (NHL), Head Coach
  • Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL), Assistant Coach
  • New York Rangers (NHL), Assistant Coach
  • Vancouver Canucks (NHL), Assistant Coach
  • Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), Player Development Coach
  • Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL), Head Coach

Carl Hagelin, Forward

A tremendously fast, often considered ‘unrefined’ Swedish player, Carl Hagelin was with the New York Rangers organization for three years before being traded to the Anaheim Ducks. At the mid-season mark, Hagelin was subsequently traded to the Penguins where he certainly found his place contributing quickly on the third line. He played a pivotal roll with his speed on a line with Phil Kessel and Nick Bonino that frequently made the stat sheet during the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Looking back, it is clear the NY Rangers lost two important individuals that later came together to hoist the cup. Carl Hagelin and Mike Sullivan must feel pretty good about where they are, and likely share the “everything happens for a reason” motto given their journey in the league.

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Posted by on July 12, 2016 in Bruce Heen


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What Will The Rangers Look Like Next Season?

It’s a great question and one that isn’t certain based on the teams performance this past season.

Management has made it clear that ever player outside of Lundqvist, Brady Skjei and Pavel Buchnevich are on the table as far as trade talks. The Rangers will listen to all trade inquiries, even for some of their top players you wouldn’t consider, like captain Ryan McDonagh. That’s pretty incredible, especially since this team has performed well over the last few seasons, coming as close as you can get to winning a Stanley Cup. But close is not good enough, especially if you’re an original six team in the biggest market under the most scrutiny day in and day out. A change is needed and so the team is open to trade conversations to see how they can rebuild or position themselves to get that Stanley Cup they’ve been chasing since 93-94 season.

So will it be a rebuilding year, or just a makeover for the Rangers? Regardless, Henrik Lundqvist must be feeling a little uneasy since his time and productive play will likely tick a little downward every season from this point forward. A cornerstone of the team in so many ways, Lundqvist is arguably the best and most consistent goalie in the NHL. Just in the last couple of season with coach Alan Vigneault, he’s had the necessary team around him to make playoff appearances and deep runs at the Stanley Cup. At his age, you’ve got to think he’s a little upset or curious of the choices the Rangers will be making in the off season.

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Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Bruce Heen


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NY Rangers Gaining Momentum Without McDonagh, Nash

Bruce HeenThe NY Rangers have stringed together four straight wins without two of their best players. Both Ryan McDonagh and Rick Nash are huge contributors to the winning formula of The Rangers. First reaction is to think New York will have issues scoring and defending, ultimately losing games and falling out of the tight playoff race in the east. Luckily this just isn’t the case, and what’s occurring for The Rangers is very reminiscent of the teams success and eventual President’s Trophy last year. They are getting contributions up and down the roster with some unlikely players making a mark on the stat sheet.

One player that is experiencing a great hot streak over the last 10 games is J.T. Miller. Miller is young, energetic, but early on has had a tough time finding his place on the team. He has been up and down and in and out of The Rangers team and there AHL affiliate, The Hartford Wolfpack. With Miller’s latest output of scoring, it is hard to imagine him making a return to the AHL and likely has cemented himself as a solid NHL player.

Outside of Miller, we are seeing players like Jesper Fast, Dominic Moore, and Kevin Hayes making their presence felt. The Rangers most recent game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a 3-0 win, Fast, Moore, and Hayes each scored a goal. For Dominic Moore it was his first goal of 2016!

In summary, The Rangers are playing some of their best hockey at a great point of the season. Once McDonagh and Nash get back in the action they should only strengthen the team.

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Posted by on February 12, 2016 in Bruce Heen


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When Will Henrik Lundqvist Get His Cup?

Bruce HeenHenrik Lundqvist is a true competitor, and he won’t back down from the overarching goal that comes with the territory of being a professional ice hockey player – a Stanley Cup Championship. Over the past two seasons, Lundqvist has come so close but to no avail. What could rock someone to their core after nearly receiving the greatest achievement in the sport’s history, in back to back seasons, continues to be the biggest motivation factor to one of the best goaltenders the sport has ever seen. Lundqvist believes he will get his Stanley Cup, and at his current age of 33, it calls to question how much he has left in the tank.

Lundvist will continue to prepare before every game with extreme dedication. He will take care of his body with a strict diet, keep his body in fantastic shape in order to handle the rigorous 82 game season, and lastly and maybe most important, believe. Part of believing in winning the one trophy that is missing from his illustrious career are the off season moves made by the New York Rangers.

The Rangers are bringing back a tight nucleus of young talent locked up in long term deals and are looking to build off the positive outcome of the past two seasons under the steady leadership of coach Alain Vigneault.

But still, you can’t help but questions Lundqvist age and how tough it is to get the big one. He only has two to three years and some may consider him to be past his prime after coming in to league back in the 2005-06 season as a rookie.

We will have to wait and see.

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Posted by on September 14, 2015 in Bruce Heen


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Derek Stepan Garners $6.5 Million Per Year Contract

Derek Stepan just landed a six year deal worth $39 million and will remain on his beloved New York Rangers for more season to come. Stepan has been an integral part of the Rangers since he came onto the scene at young age. In his debut game, he registered a hat trick and hasn’t looked back since. He’s a playmaker, making tape to tape passes every game, while also providing a spark on the power play and penalty kill. Derek is easy to coach and contributes on both ends of the floor, and he even has a great sense of humor while doing it.

The New York Rangers made a smart move locking him up for the next six years. Stepan is a part of a young nucleus of players that have a lot of experience so early on. They have been through long runs in the playoffs, having reached the Stanley Cup finals last year, and fell a game short of reaching the finals this past year.

It is also worth noting that Derek Stepan became the first New York Ranger center to record 50 or more points in three consecutive seasons since Wayne Gretzky. Simply put, Stepan is a solid player and The Rangers will have him during his prime and potentially more. He is on an upward trend and will likely only get better with more experience. The crazy thing is, he came into the league in 2010 and he plays and carries himself like he has been here much longer. His ceiling has yet to be reached. With a longer contract and more money, you have to sense that Derak Stepan will be way more comfortable and his play will reflect as a result.

Congratulations Stepan, you’ve been a great asset since your start to present day. Now get out on the ice and bring the cup back to New York!

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Posted by on July 27, 2015 in Bruce Heen


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Rangers lose out on Stanley Cup race, but the future looks bright

The New York Rangers are a solid team every year as playoff contenders, and more recently they have had the type of relentless dedication on both sides of the puck that can carry a team all the way to a Stanley Cup title. A surprising run last year to the finals, followed by a season with huge promise this year, including a President’s Trophy during the regular season, panned out to be not enough. It is a big disappointment after what will be an unforgettable season, but the NY Rangers shouldn’t hang their heads in defeat, and instead should look forward to more great seasons much like this one, as they have found a great identity, with a phenomenal nucleus of young and seasoned veterans to lead the charge.

Taking a look at the team that will be coming back next year, you can’t help but like your chances again despite missing out on what seemed like a sure shot to the Stanley Cup finals, especially with the play of the team in Henrik Lundqvist absence. See below for three key areas that bode well for continued Ranger success next season:

1. World Class Goaltending

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Henrik Lundqvist

Henrik Lundqvist can flat out play and he is absolutely coming into his prime as a goaltender. Not only is he hands down phenomenal, but he is also clutch in big time positions. You think Lundqvist would be rattled after what unfolded a couple weeks ago, but don’t fret – he is a competitor and a great professional. He will continue to show up every night and give it his all, standing on his head game after game, frustrating his counterparts and invigorating his team.

2. Young Talent / Veterans

You have to like this if you’re a coach and fan. Your young players are coming into their own at such an early age and your veterans have plenty left in the tank to motivate and provide developmental direction.

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Jesper Fast

We see this with the emergence of Jesper Fast in the playoffs and the heady play of Kevin Hayes during the regular season / postseason. You also can’t leave out Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider from the core of young players that can flat out play on the NY Rangers squad. These two can sometimes get lost in the veteran talk because they have been good for some time, and by some time we are talking 3-5 years, which is really quite young in hockey terms. They are growing, learning and their ceiling has yet to be met and should only continue to provide great scoring / playmaking touch that you can’t help but love. Not to mention,

Kreider is a freak athlete that is fast, strong, and is only truly starting to realize his

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Chris Kreider

potential. Just check out this video of him jumping out of the shallow end of a pool, it’s crazy.

Looking at the veterans, you can’t ignore Rick Nash and his scoring during the regular season, but you do need to point out his subpar play in the postseason. Subpar might be a bit harsh, but if you look at the stat sheet you can see how people could judge him, especially after a season filled with scoring and assists. Nash can do a lot of things, and that’s exactly what he did during the Rangers post season run this season. He didn’t always show up on the state sheet, but his presence was definitely felt most times he was on the ice. Another veteran worth noting is Derek Brassard. His play in the postseason was on display big time an you’d think if it wasn’t for him the Rangers wouldn’t have gotten nearly as far as they did with such little scoring than they are accustomed to in their postseason run.

3. Blue Line Presence

The Rangers have one of the best defenses in the league, hands down. Each line gets the job done and some, with a few capable providing offense on the other end. There’s not much to pick at here and they will continue to have this identity for years to come, as there major assets are locked into long-term deals.

The NY Rangers exit from the postseason came as a surprise to many, but it shouldn’t dissuade you in the least. This team won’t be changing drastically from the cast that carried them all the way to a President’s Trophy during the regular season. The future looks bright, so sit back and enjoy a team that will be fun to watch for the foreseeable future.

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Posted by on June 10, 2015 in Bruce Heen


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